Blues take bragging rights in NRL Players' Poll

Tom Gibbs

A host of Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues stars have been voted the top players in their respective positions following Monday’s 2020 NRL Players’ Poll.

The poll, which was voted on by 150 players, saw seven New South Welshmen earn a spot in the Players’ Best 13 – one more than the 2019 instalment – and a total of 31 present and emerging Blues secured enough votes to be named in the top five across each positional category. The latter is a vast improvement from 22 players this time last season, which is a great sign for Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler.

Of the seven highest voted NSW players, reigning Dally M Medallist James Tedesco and Roosters teammate Luke Keary took out the top spot at fullback and five-eighth for the second year in succession. The pair’s combination has made them arguably the most dangerous attacking duo this season with Tedesco currently second in the competition for tackle-breaks (54) and first in line-break assists (11), while Keary has assisted 10 tries (2nd) and had 60 line engagements (3rd).

Rounding out three other positions in the outside backs include 2014 State of Origin winners Daniel Tupou at left wing and sky blue stalwarts Brett and Josh Morris at right wing and left centre. Tupou has averaged 190 metres and four tackle-breaks per game this season before he injured his ankle, while the Morris twins have recaptured their best form after joining forces at the Roosters, producing 10 tries and seven try-assists between them since the season restart.

With strong competition in the halfback category following Cooper Cronk’s retirement, it was Newcastle Knights captain Mitchell Pearce who topped the 2020 leaderboard with 27% of votes followed by Penrith’s Nathan Cleary with 22%. Pearce has helped steer the Knights to fifth spot after nine rounds as they eye off a top-four finish while Cleary has played a vital role in the Panthers’ superb start to the season as Penrith keep proving their genuine premiership credentials.

In the forward pack, back-to-back premierships and State of Origin series saw captain Boyd Cordner named in the left second row position with 17% of votes. Cordner’s leadership has been a key factor behind the Roosters’ outstanding form since the competition resumed after being rested for consecutive defeats in Rounds 1 and 2.

Fellow statesmen Wade Graham and Tyson Frizell finished fourth and fifth in the second row voting tally while the lock position included Jake Trbojevic in second place with 21% of votes, followed by the Roosters’ Victor Radley, Penrith’s Isaah Yeo and South Sydney’s Cameron Murray. Panthers dummy-half Apisai Koroisau has also taken Damien Cook’s mantle as the second best hooker in the NRL with 22% of votes behind Storm captain Cameron Smith.